SR article

Socio-technical system of the current stream of wood

Students: Manuella Borgers, Niki Versteeg and Marco Vogelzang

Supervisor: Dr. Ir. B. (Bertien) Broekhans

Date: December 20, 2016


1. Introduction

Nowadays, in modern high-tech industry we do not need better systems, we need new systems that are better. Socio-technical systems design methods are an approach to design these new organisational systems by taking into consideration the human, social and organisational factors, as well as technical factors. Applying these methods cause a better understanding of how human, social and organisational factors affect the ways that work is done and technical systems are used. The underlying premise of socio-technical thinking is that systems design should be a process that takes into account both social and technical factors that influence the functionality and usage of computer-based systems. (Norman, 1993; Goguen, 1999).

In developing socio-technical systems, it is important to realize that decisions should be made in a manner that will set up the possibility for innovation in future. Any decision must be carefully made to enable options and possibilities such as downstream changes or insertion of new technologies. Innovators need to think across multiple dimensions with sensitivity to time, context, and the diverse preferences of large sets of system stakeholders.

It is widely acknowledged that adopting a socio-technical approach to system development leads to systems that are more acceptable to end users and deliver better value to stakeholders. Despite this, such approaches are not widely practiced (Baxter & Sommerville, 2011). The difficult thing is the demarcation of the system: What belongs to the (engineering) system under consideration and what to its environment? For engineering systems this problem manifests itself conspicuously with regard to the status of non-technical elements, such as social, political, economic and institutional ones. To what extent are these, or ought these elements to be considered to belong to engineering systems or to the environment or context? By looking into the socio-technical system of wood, we hope to gather more information about this question.

2. Wood Flow in The Netherlands

How does wood get from the tree to the roof of your house, your bookshelf, or the chair you're sitting on? It's a longer and more complex journey than you might think that takes in account processes like harvesting, seasoning, preserving and other treatment, and cutting. Figure 1 shows the wood flow in the Netherlands. There's a big difference between a tree and the table it might become, even though both are made from exactly the same wood. There are a lot more processes involved than just cutting the tree. Every step in the process is related to a technology used and a company responsible. These factors are all incorporated in the socio-technical system of wood, which makes it result a complex scheme.

There are many other ways of using trees that involve greater amounts of processing. Some woods are very rare and expensive, while others are cheap and plentiful. A common technique is to apply an outer layer of expensive and attractive wood to a core of cheaper material. Growing plants for food is called agriculture; growing trees for human use is silviculture. Wood is a plant crop that must be harvested just like any other, but the difference is the time needed for trees to grow, often many years or even decades. In theory, wood might last forever if it weren't attacked by bugs and bacteria. Currently, 22 % of the logs in the Dutch wood flow is harvested in the Netherlands, the other 78% is imported (Nabuurs et al, 2016). A part is directly used for fuel and a other part goes to the wood industy. This industry fabricated wood for multiple destinations. Eventually the wood waste will be collected and used for fuel or as compost.

A perfect product would be designed so that materials can be recycled when its service life ends. The product will eventually wear out, but the materials will still be useful. For example, parts can be used in the manufacturing process of a new piece of furniture. Alternatively, this type of material can be processed and recycled into manmade boards, such as chipboards. This can be used in the construction industry and by furniture manufacturers. When the natural wood is completely worn out, it will become fuel for a wood incineration (Woodford, 2015).

Figure 1: Wood Flow Netherlands

3. Socio-technical system in The Hague

Now we know more about the wood flow in the Netherlands we focus us on The Hague. To give a clear overview of the socio-technical system in The Hague we divided the system in four parts.

The first part of the socio-technical system is Harvesting. There are two forest area’s in The Hague managed by Staatsbosbeheer. Namely, Klein Zwitserland and Haagse bos. From these area's only a limited woody biomass (pruning and the trunk of the tree) is collected, 5 ton of wood. Once every 4 years (2017/2018) Staatsbosbeheer is thinning the forests and collects 1.500 ton of wood. On average the yearly woody biomass that they collect is 385 ton [1]. 308 ton goes to the wood industry and 77 ton to energy (Hanekam & Karsch, 2010). Secondly, we divided Uses into households and companies/construction industry. The municipality of The Hague is working hard to become a CO2-neutral city by 2040. This means that natural gas will no longer be used to produce heat in the city, but only sustainable energy like wind and solar energy. This will save approximately 357 kiloton CO2. The municipality of the Hague is working on this climate plan together with Stedin, the province of South-Holland, Vestia and Eneco (Gemeente Den Haag, 2011). Looking to the households, the residence of The Hague are unaware that wood-burning stoves release unhealthy emission in the air. As one in six homes has a fireplace or wood-burning stove (national average is 1 in 10) this will soon become a larger source of air pollution than traffic. The municipality is also launching a campaign to make residents more aware of their fire behavior and to give tips for cleaner wood burning. In the Hague, 2/3 of home products contains wood. The waste wood stream of sorted wood is 2.300 ton and is collected by HMS and used for energy. 3.000 ton is not sorted but still used for energy. This not sorted waste wood is collected AVR and Van Gansewinkel and transported by ship to the biomass energy centre (BEC) or to AVR in Rozenburg. The other part of uses are the companies/construction industry. There are four main wood companies in The Hague. Most of them have clean waste wood, namely sawdust. A big part of their waste stream, 40%, is for energy production and 30% of this used for their own company. Dekker Hout Den Haag B.V. uses the waste wood mainly for their own energy production and otherwise for their sister firms. 6 ton a year is collected by HMS. Jongeneel has 16-17 ton of waste wood a year. This is collected by HMS as well in The Hague and transported to Rozenburg. Pont Meyer in The Hague has 390 ton of type B waste wood a year and 270 ton of sawdust a year. This wood is collected by Van Gansewinkel and transported as well to Rozenburg.

Lastly, the socio-technical system of The Hague consist of the Waste collection and energy production group. The total clean waste wood of wood companies/industries in The Hague is 660 ton a year. A part of this, 270 ton is not available and 390 ton is already used for energy. 4.000 ton of waste wood (type A and B) is not clean and is collected by Regionaal Sorteercentrum West (RSC). A part of this not clear waste wood, 1.000 ton goed to BEC in Rozenburg and 3.00 ton goes to the Houtbank in Rozenburg, where it will be sold to Italy. All the waste wood collected at the biomass energy centre in Rozenburg will be used for biomass energy (Hanekam & Karsch, 2010).

Figure 2: Social Technical System The Hague

[1] These are numbers of Hanekamp & Karsch (2010). Based on the yearly 5 tons and four-yearly 1500 tons the average would be 380 ton in stead of 385 ton. We do not know which number is incorrect. For that reason we kept there numbers.



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